Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/361/5936

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 September 2004

Bloodbath in Beslan

Putin's Policies Fuel National Conflicts in the Caucasus

THE BLOODY end to the school hostage crisis in Beslan, North Ossetia, angered, sickened and shocked people around the world. Officially, more than 340 died, and the figure is expected to rise substantially. Many hundreds are injured or unaccounted for.

Niall Mulholland

The 1 September brutal assault by terrorists on the school, and their barbaric treatment of hostages - including children and elderly women - underscores the completely reactionary character of the Chechen separatist Islamic group which carried it out.

The hostage takers had demanded a withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and the release of rebels jailed after a series of armed attacks in another Russian republic, Ingushetia, in June, which killed nearly 100 police officials.

The root causes of the latest atrocity reside in the decade-long Chechen war, and, more generally, in the national conflicts that have arisen in the former Soviet republics following the disastrous restoration of capitalism.

Successive Russian governments have murdered and terrorised the people of Chechnya and destroyed most of the cities and towns. It is estimated that over 40,000 children have been killed by Russian forces, although those horrors were hardly ever shown on television or condemned by Putin's allies in the West.

The vast majority of Chechens live in extreme poverty. The country is denied self-determination by the brutal occupation of the Russian army, and by pro-Moscow Chechen militias and a puppet regime.

'International terrorism'?

PUTIN HAS tried to 'internationalise' the conflict, by declaring that the brutal Russian occupation of Chechnya is part of the so-called "war against international terrorism". Last week, Russian officials succeeded in getting the UN Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the siege.

At the same time, Putin declares the Chechen conflict is an "internal matter". He wants Western backing, but no interference, as Russian forces carry out even more vicious attacks in Chechnya.

In a national TV address, Putin ominously said he would bring the Caucasus 'under control' and tighten security. But he was also forced to concede that corruption in the security forces and a lack of "professionalism" had contributed towards the bloody outcome.

Blair and Bush have wasted no time in trying to use the terrible Beslan events to their advantage; "Russia's 11 September" is used to justify the endless "war on terror" and the clampdown on democratic, civil and human rights. No doubt, both leaders hope this will aid their re-election chances.

Undoubtedly, there is widespread anger amongst working people in Russia at the hostage takers. This poses a real danger of increased ethnic tensions and conflict in Moscow and other Russian cities with large Caucasian populations. The cry for harsher measures against terrorism can get an echo, in Russia and the West. However, there is also widespread despair amongst Russians, with many blaming Putin for failing to resolve the Chechen conflict, as he promised to do years ago. This is compounded by the authorities' mishandling of the siege during and afterwards.

Putin re-ignited the conflict in Chechnya to boost his credentials as a "firm leader" prior to becoming president of Russia. But the conflict continues to dog his rule. Despite the Russian president's claim that things are "getting better" in Chechnya, the last two weeks saw two planes and a metro station in Moscow attacked, with the loss of around 100 lives. In 2002, hundreds of theatre-goers in Moscow died after a disastrous assault by Russian special forces to free hostages held by Chechen rebels.

The Russian president's attempts to crush the insurgents by repression and bribery have failed. In October 2003, a pro-Moscow Chechen president, Akhmad Kadyrov, was 'elected'. Putin aimed to rule Chechnya through this brutal stooge and Russian officials boasted that the separatists were deeply divided and nearly defeated. However, on 9 May, this year, Kadyrov was assassinated by a bomb blast.

West ignores abuses

AFTER 9/11, the US and Western countries ignored the continual human rights abuses and mass murders carried out by Russian forces in Chechnya, as they sought a new alliance with Putin in the 'fight against terror'. Furthermore, for the US and other Western countries, Russia's importance as a giant exporter of oil and gas has grown in recent years.

Subsequently, the exiled Chechen separatist leader, Aslan Maskhadov, who was previously termed a 'moderate', was disowned by the Western powers. But this left the way open for hard-line, Islamic groups to fill the vacuum in Chechnya, although Putin undoubtedly exaggerates the role of "Arab" and other foreign Islamic fighters.

The new generation of Chechen insurgents, who believe they are fighting a "Jihad", act out of complete desperation, after experiencing years of extreme repression, and often witnessing the death of husbands, brothers, sons and other family members and friends at the hands of Russian forces.

Their ability to strike is aided by the enormous levels of corruption in Russian society; Chechen fighters have previously made their way through Russian army checkpoints by simply paying a bribe!

The increasing complication of the Chechen conflict is compounded by the fragile ethnic tensions in the North Ossetia region. Thirteen years ago, North Ossetia (mainly Orthodox Christian) went to war with neighbouring Ingushetia (mainly Muslim). Furthermore, Russian forces have recently conducted "anti-terrorist" operations in Ingushetia, where they believe separatists have gained support. Only weeks before, Georgia and South Ossetia were on the verge of war.

Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia has attempted to dominate small nations to its south, provoking instability across the north and south Caucasus. Russia bitterly opposes independence for Chechnya, while actively supporting secessionists in areas like Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two contested provinces in Georgia.

This imperialist meddling is causing all sorts of contradictions and conflicts. The Moscow-supported Abkhaz revolt, in 1992, was supported by armed volunteers from Chechnya. Later, Chechens returned home and began fighting for independence. One of these was Shamil Basayev, now a leader of 'The Second Group of Salakin Riadus Shakhidi', a Chechen Islamic group which Russian officials last week blamed for the Beslan seige.

Arms are awash across the Caucasus, many of which originate from Russian forces, and circulate among militias. The recent upsurge of Chechen-linked violence in Russia, in the Caucasus and, of course, in Chechnya, indicates the danger of a new 'third Chechen war' or wider regional conflict erupting.

Strongman Putin?

ALTHOUGH THE government and pro-Putin Russian media fan the fires of racism to keep anti-Chechen feelings high amongst Russians, the continuing Chechen conflict shows that Putin cannot deliver 'security' or 'peace' in Chechnya or anywhere in Russia.

Putin desperately resists Chechen autonomy, let alone independence. Important regional natural resources and supply lines, and other geo-strategic considerations, means that the capitalist elite in Russia will forcibly act to stop genuine self-determination for Chechnya.

Recent 'elections' in Chechnya put in place as President, Alu Alkhanov, the latest pro-Moscow stooge. Western leaders, like France's President Chirac and Germany's Chancellor Schroeder, may back the result, but the sham elections did not fool the majority of Chechens.

Earlier this summer, Putin's rule was also coming under renewed pressure from working people in Russia. The Kremlin is increasing its authoritarian rule and introduced widely hated cuts in social benefits, including housing subsidies, pensions, public transport and prescriptions. The President's boast that he would double Russia's GDP sounds increasingly hollow to the country's impoverished millions.

Underlining the reactionary and counter-productive character of terrorism, the bloody events in Beslan may, for a short period, deflect anger over social and class issues. However, ongoing conflict and the deep economic and social problems in Russia, will send the working people of Russia on a collision course with the Putin regime and the ruling class.

To achieve a fundamental change to their lives, the Russian working class will have to re-embrace the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky - the ideas of genuine Marxism. A socialist society, with an economy under the democratic control and planning of the working class, is the only way to lift the majority of people out of poverty, joblessness, low pay, exploitation and poor working conditions.

A socialist programme also includes allowing the right of oppressed nations to decide their own future. This means the Russian workers' movement supporting self-determination for the Chechen people and an end to Russian occupation of the country; for a socialist Chechnya as part of a socialist confederation of the region, on a voluntary and equal basis. A socialist programme would include winning over the rank and file of the mainly conscript Russian soldiers, who face appalling conditions and are poorly paid.

Only a united mass movement of Chechen workers and poor, linked to the working class of the region, can overcome national, ethnic and religious differences and deliver the aspirations of the Chechen people - successfully winning national rights and social and economic liberation.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 11 September 2004:

A Spiral Of War And Terror

Bloodbath in Beslan

What Lies Behind The Terror


Socialist Party news and analysis

Protest Against Low Pay

Civil Servants Prepare To Fight Jobs Slaughter

Strength In Numbers

Save Southmead Hospital

Action - The Only Language The Government Understands

Blair And Beckham - The Champagne Charlies

Blair's Welfare Wonderland


International socialist news and analysis

Thousands Looking For An Alternative

Lessons Of The Sandinista Revolution

A Long View Of History


 

Home   |   The Socialist 11 September 2004   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Russia:

triangleThe striking relevance of Leon Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution

triangleMueller report underlines Democrats' weakness

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Russia - The rise of Stalinism

triangleSupport for Putin's regime dips over major attacks on state pensions

triangleThem & us

Vladimir Putin:

triangleRussia's predictable presidential election

triangleThem & Us

triangleDraconian sentences for Pussy Riot protest will backfire on Putin

triangleWidespread fraud alleged as Putin wins presidential poll

Chechnya:

triangleSupport for Socialist Party campaigns at biggest ever Leeds Pride

triangleManchester Socialist Party: Chechnya - Gay rights and the repressions

International

International

3/6/20

USA

USA - another cop killing of unarmed black man sparks widespread protests

31/5/20

US

Outrage spreads globally following US police murder of George Floyd

27/5/20

Hong Kong

Chinese state's imposition of draconian law reignites Hong Kong protests

27/5/20

Lebanon

Economic collapse leads to renewed protests across Lebanon

20/5/20

US

Trump, coronavirus, capitalism, and the presidential race

6/5/20

India

India: Fighting the curse of capitalism and coronavirus

6/5/20

Trump

Trump puts profit before safety (again)

6/5/20

US

US: Trump's public health cuts have condemned thousands worldwide

29/4/20

May Day

A CWI May Day 2020 statement

29/4/20

Ireland

Irish police use Covid-19 emergency powers to disperse Dublin shop workers' protest

22/4/20

USA

US private healthcare system in meltdown

14/4/20

Coronavirus

Rapacious capitalism and the spread of coronavirus

8/4/20

CWI

Coronavirus, capitalism and fighting for socialism worldwide

8/4/20

Amazon

Amazon workers threaten revolution!

18/3/20

France

French local elections: CWI candidate elected

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999